Friday, December 24, 2010


Hope you have a PSA 10 holiday season!

I'll be back posting in early January.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


The summer of ’69?

Well, I got my first real six string. Bought it at the five-and-dime.

OK, that wasn’t me. That was some Canadian dude.

My summer of ’69 was more about a dim awareness. Of moon landings and Mad magazine. Of hippies and Nixon and ‘Nam. Oh my…

And the Mets. I had a dim awareness of the Mets that began to sharpen that summer.

This is the final form it took: “It will always be this way.”

So the seeds of my romantically fatal baseball tendencies were planted at the very moment of my conception as a fan.

However, I didn't have even a dim awareness of baseball cards at this point. My brother was four years older, but he was not really into sports, so cards hadn’t made their way into my house.

And all apologies, but I don’t feel like I missed too much. The ‘69 card fronts are kind of a lazy amalgamation of the ’67 and ’68 sets, and expansion appears to have given the airbrushers a fit.

Further evidence of the essential torpor surrounding the set can be found there on Al Jackson's left sleeve. If you squint a bit, you'll see a World's Fair commemorative patch. Which the Mets wore in 1964 and 1965...

The reverses are actually kind of cool, with a bubblegum pink background and a comic, as space allows. Plus, I love the way the loop of the “t” in the Topps logo cradles the card number.

Friday, December 17, 2010

1965 TOPPS METS TEAM #551 PSA 7.5

The various indignities on display on 1960s Mets’ team cards are generally reserved for the back.

On the front is a shiny blue team-- no apparent bumps and bruises, no uniform tops rent in anguish.

Heck, in their mien and demeanor they could be the Yankees.

But then you flip the card over, and read the list of absurd won/loss records, puny batting averages, and feeble power numbers.

Well, in 1965 (and again in 1966) Topps decided to display the order of finish on the card fronts. So all the world could see it there plain as day, with no need to flip the card over:


There's a good chance that we'll never again see numbers of the sort put up by Mets' pitchers from 1962 through 1965. It's worth basking in them a bit:

Roger Craig: 10-24, 4.51
Al Jackson: 8-20, 4.40
Jay Hook: 8-19, 4.84
Bob Miller: 1-12, 4.89
Craig Anderson: 3-17, 5.35

Roger Craig: 5-22, 3.78
Tracy Stallard: 6-17, 4.71
Jay Hook: 4-14, 5.48
Galen Cisco: 7-15, 4.34
Carl Willey: 9-14, 3.10
Al Jackson: 13-17, 3.96

Jack Fisher: 10-17, 4.23
Tracy Stallard: 10-20, 3.79
Al Jackson: 11-16, 4.26
Galen Cisco: 6-19, 3.62

Jack Fisher: 8-24, 3.94
Al Jackson: 8-20, 4.34
Warren Spahn: 4-12, 4.36
Tom Parsons: 1-10, 4.67

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


One of the joys of Topps high-number series up through 1973 is that they often reveal long-forgotten footnotes to baseball history.

They trace within their lines the trajectory of once-great figures playing out the strings of their careers, in far-flung outposts that defy our natural associations.

Take Leo the Lip here. You might think of Leo the player as a Cardinal and a Dodger. I know I think of Leo the manager as a Dodger and a Giant and a Cub. But seeing him with the Astros, even in this airbrushed form, just doesn’t seem right.

I imagine him getting dressed in the Astrodome locker room with his back turned to the mirror.

And around about the 6th inning, I see him gazing out through the plastic Houston night in search of just a little patch of ivy…

Thursday, December 9, 2010


No Ahab am I, but I do have some proverbial white whales that I chase with no real hope of ever landing:

1967 Topps Stand Up Ron Swoboda
1967 Topps Discs Cleon Jones
1968 Topps 3D Ron Swoboda
1970 Topps Cloth Gary Gentry
1970 Topps Candy Lid Tom Seaver

I don’t think this 1972 Cloth Frisella qualifies as a white whale, because it’s not really that hard to find.

Somewhere I have a photo of my dog standing in front of my bedroom door, and the door is covered with crusty Wacky Packages and misshapen 1972 Cloth stickers. And if I had access to these Cloths back in the day, they could not have been too scarce.

However, I did spend a fair amount of time looking for a graded version of this Frisella with the backing intact, and it felt like a steal for the $15 or so I paid.

I suppose I’d sharpen my harpoon again for a Jim Fregosi BP…

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Friday, December 3, 2010


Topps Rep: Jim? Jim? Can I grab you for a couple of minutes?

Jim Beauchamp: Whuh?

TR: I’m with Topps and we’re working on the upcoming 1972 set. I just wanted to take your picture and ask you some quick questions for the back of your card.

JB: Dude, you’re with tops? Can you spinnnnn? Like this? (Does a clumsy pirouette, stumbles) Aw, man, my pointy shoes made me less spinny. Damn pointy shoes.

TR: Er, OK. No. Topps. T-O-P-P-S.

JB: Huhuhuhuh.

TR: What?

JB: Nothing.

TR: No, what?

JB: (Whispers) Dude, you said “peepee.”

TR: (Sighs) I guess you’re right. Jim, can you tell me a little bit about what you like to do in the offseason?

JB: Well, this winter, me and my old lady followed Brewer and Shipley up and down the East Coast. (Sings) “Sitting downtown in a railway station…” And, plus, we made Zeke.

TR: Zeke?

JB: Zeke. He’s our scarecrow. He’s the grooviest scarecrow in Grove, Oklahoma. But he won’t scare the crows, man. He’ll love the crows. Zeke is a love crow! Dude.

TR: Right. Anything else you’d like…

JB: (Interrupting) Cards! Oh man, baseball cards! What is the set going to look like?

TR: Well, the team names will appear in an arc at top of the card, with a 3D effect and lots of different colors, some pastels and some neons.

JB: Whoa!

TR: And the player names will appear in a little oval tablet at the bottom of the card, in all caps.

JB: Little oval tablet? Far out!

TR: Yes, Jim. We think the kids will “dig” them. Now if you don’t mind, can I get a couple of quick pictures?

JB: Sure, dude. One thing though: (Whispering) I’m kind of stoned right now.

TR: Don’t worry, Jim. No one will ever notice…

Wednesday, December 1, 2010


Ed Bouchee looks forlorn.

It’s easy to imagine that the 1962 Mets would do that to a man. Sure, you’re in the big leagues, technically. But the road to 40-120 must be a hard one.

Chances are, though, that there’s something more behind Ed’s sad eyes.

He was runner-up for NL Rookie of the Year in 1957, and his professional future looked bright.

However, following that banner season, Ed was arrested for indecent exposure. He spent a few months in a mental institution before being allowed to return to the majors in the summer of 1958.

He is the reason that there is no card #145 in the 1958 Topps set. Ed is listed as #145 on the team checklist, but in the set he is just an unexplained gap.

1962 would turn out to be his last year in the bigs, and he went out with the honor of being one of only two players to model a full Mets uniform in that year’s Topps set.

But still in those eyes all I see is the unexplained gap…